Internet Archive Opens 1.6 Million E-Books to Kids with OLPC Laptops
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kids can search on and find those books, ane one million six hundred thousand now will be avaible to the one millions users of the One Laptop Per Child. We’re really psyched about that.”
Kahle says the Internet Archive books will be available through the reading “activity” on the XO Laptop. (Software on the laptop is organized into groups called activities pertaining to different types of creative and educational projects.) In an upcoming version of the XO’s basic software, the reading activity will also allow students to browse books from a variety of providers, Kahle says, including libraries and commercial publishers.
He drew an explicit contrast between these approach and the more closed and controlled e-book sales models being forwarded by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other distributors. But getting new, copyrighted books onto platforms that don’t provide strict digital rights management protections is still a tricky business proposition—so for now, the book sharing arrangement between the Archive and OLPC is restricted to free, public-domain books.
“The idea is to make it so that it’s not just these closed companies with contracts between them but to make a web of books,” says Kahle. “Can we make One Laptop Per Child a participant in this open world? We are working to try to help that happen. In this first phase it’s just going to be the public domain materials.”
One criticism of the Internet Archive’s book digitization effort, which involves the use of optical character recognition software to transform images into digital text, is that the process results in numerous typographical errors. But last Monday, Kahle notes, the Internet Archive demonstrated a Wiki-like system that allows readers to instantly correct typos they find in the organization’s e-books. “This is all the advantage of openness,” Kahle says. (The demonstration was part of a larger rollout of the Internet Archive’s new Book Server project, envisioned as a centralized clearinghouse for e-book distribution that would provide publishers and libraries with an alternative to Amazon, Google, and the like.)